Crews battle fire along Interstate 80 |

Crews battle fire along Interstate 80

An airtanker drops its load of fire retardant on a wildfire near Floriston on Friday. Photo courtesy Cheryl Hogan

TRUCKEE – Stiff winds Friday were pushing a wildfire through the Truckee River Canyon alongside Interstate 80 near Floriston.

Fire crews responded to a five-acre fire about 2:15 p.m. approximately 20 miles east of Truckee. Winds quickly fanned the blaze to more than a dozen acres, according to Gene Welch, public information officer for the Truckee Fire Protection District.

By 6:30, about 50 acres had burned, with 210 firefighters and massive air support containing about 20 percent of the blaze, said Daniel Berlant of the California Department of Forestry. He said the fire is expected to be fully contained by this morning.

“The fire is burning in heavy timber in very steep terrain and high winds are making it difficult,” Berlant said.

No structures were threatened and no road closures were reported. One firefighter was pulled of the lines with heat exhaustion, Berlant said.

At various times during the day, six air tankers, four helicopters, 25 engines, one bulldozer and six water tenders were on scene. Including six handcrews, there are 210 firefighters working to contain the fire from Truckee, North Lake Tahoe Fire District, the CDF and the U.S. Forest Service.

Berlant said that while Interstate 80 remains open, gawkers were causing a slowdown.

“There is some distraction with the aircraft in the air and helicopters filling their buckets from the [Truckee] river,” he said. “Traffic is moving slowly.”

The cause of the fire is under investigation, Berlant said.